International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast me hearties, it be talk like a pirate day. That bein’ the case, I’ll be posting a pirate pun this mornin’ Arrrgh!

It’s not often you see a pirate on the street in Topeka, Kansas. But this morning that’s just what I saw. He was dressed as piratey as he could be, right down to the peg leg and eye patch. The only incongruity was, in place of a hat, he had a paper towel. I also noted that his behavior was a bit strange. He kept looking behind him, and seemed, frankly, to be a bit paranoid. So I asked him what he was afraid of. “Arrrgh,” he said, “I’ve got a Bounty on me head.”

OK, enough of that. This blog is supposed to be about laugh2learn, and how  you can use improv concepts to improve the environment at work and, for that matter, at home. The main concept is “yes…and.” Based on the notion of accepting the offer from another and adding to it. The opposite is “yes…but,” which stifles creativity. When we work with employers, we usually do verbal and physical exercises to demonstrate the power of “yes…and,” but here is a powerful exercise you can do almost anytime anywhere, and you don’t even need to hire me to do it!

Find two or three partners and sit at a table with a single sheet of paper. Your goal is to create a drawing. If you want you can decide what kind of drawing you will create; face, landscape, animal, etc. Then without speaking further, one person makes a single mark on the paper and passes it to the next person who also makes a single mark. Continue passing the paper, each player adding a single mark until one person feels that the drawing is complete. Again without speaking that person writes a single letter on the paper. This is the beginning of the title of the work of art. Each person contributes a letter until the drawing is complete. Katt Koppett’s Training to Imagine has some wondeful examples

I have used this technique with people from sixth grade to adults. The quality and creativity of the resulting artwork never cease to amaze me.


What’s Your Story?

Almost everyone agrees that stories are important. For one thing they are memorable, and they are the most ancient form of communication. Everyone has a story, but can everyone tell it successfully? Can you?

At Laugh2learn, we have developed several tools to help you both develop your story and your storytelling skills.

If you are going to steal, steal from the best, and  Katt Koppett’s wonderful book, Training to Imagine has a wonderful tool for story development. She suggests that a successful story will follow the story spine:

STORY SPINE          

Once upon a time…


But one day…

Because of that…

Because of that…




Until finally…

Ever since then…

(And the moral of the story is…optional)

Katt offers this example:


Once upon a time, in the same city, there were two prominent families who hated each other.

Everyday the families feuded, fought, and killed each other’s members

But one day, the son of one of the families crashed  the birthday party of the other’s daughter.

Because of that the son and daughter fell in love.

Because of that they secretly married.

Because of that the son wanted the killing to stop.

Because of that he stepped into the middle of a fight and inadvertently caused the death of his best friend.

Because of that, in agony and rage, he killed the killer, his wife’s cousin.

Because of that, he was banished.

Because of that the lovers needed to employ a complicated plan to be reunited.

Because the plan was complicated, communication broke down.

Because the message didn’t get to him the son didn’t realize his wife was only faking her death when he found her in the family tomb.

Because of that he killed himself.

Until finally, the daughter awoke to find her husband dead and she killed herself, just before the members of both families entered he tomb to find their children dead.

And ever since then, both families have stopped the nonsensical war between them.

And the moral of the story is feuds are stupid.

Now, can you begin to think of your story in terms of the story spine? What was “every day?” What was the signal event that started you down the path you want to talk about?

Once you have developed your story, you will want to begin to improve your storytelling skills. At Laugh2Learn, we have several exercises that will help. That will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.

Stay tuned.